WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich’s (D-N.M.) M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act gained momentum today after it received testimony during a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee.
WATCH: Heinrich Bill To Designate Gila River As Wild & Scenic Gains Momentum In Key Hearing [HD DOWNLOAD LINK HERE]
Senator Heinrich’s legislation would designate portions of the Gila River, its watershed and other rivers in the Gila National Forest as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The legislation will be a boon to New Mexico’s outdoor economy, while protecting an irreplaceable natural resource for future generations of New Mexicans.
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich expressed that the “Gila and San Francisco Rivers are the heart of southwest New Mexico and are home to some of the most outstanding places in the west to go rafting, fishing, or camping.”
When asked by Senator Heinrich if the legislation imposes any kinds of restrictions on water rights or the rights of nearby private land owners, panel witness and National Forest System Deputy Chief Chris French responded that neither would be affected.
Senator Heinrich relayed to the committee that this “legislation is the result of years of advocacy by community members who want to see their local rivers protected” and that the legislation has gained “overwhelming community support.”
A webpage with a summary of the legislation, maps detailing protection areas and frequently asked questions is available here. A PDF of the bill can be found here. Support for this legislation from local community leaders, sportsmen and women, business leaders and local residents can be found here.
Senator Heinrich originally introduced the legislation with former U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in 2020.
Full witness testimony and an archived video of the hearing are available here.